Category Archives: Poetry

Fairly Well

A 94-year-old woman wrote this poem about her time isolated in room 139 of her assisted living facility during the early stages of the pandemic. With vaccine distribution finally taking place, it seems like a good day to look back at the experience of one of our most vulnerable.

1-3-9: A Pandemic Poem

I am inmate 1-3-9
Alone in a lonely cell.
Although it’s quite confining,
I’m faring fairly well.

My books are my companions.
My TV a faithful friend.
My bed a cozy refuge
When the daylight ends.

Many days have come and gone
Since I landed in this jail.
And though it’s inconvenient,
I’m faring fairly well.

Betty Isaac Smith, age 94

Friday, late afternoon


Hugh Silk, MD, MPH

Have you thought anymore about hospice?

All sound seems to disappear

A tear refuses to decide between the lacrimal duct and her cheek

Suspended like the moment

Not ready yet


Silence broken

The whistle of her lungs creates harmony

You there on your coach

Oxygen tube dangling to the floor

I on my knees at your side

I listen intently to your chest sounds

Through the snores of your husband

from the only other room in this basement apartment

And the music from the smart phone as your grandson plays a game

And the loud snore that pierces the calm

While the wind outside the door clashes against the frozen pane

A Shakespearean reminder of the tension here

in the warmth beside your space heater

Harmony has become cacophony


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Now and Then


Nancy Baker2017.JPG

Nancy J. Baker, MD

We travel
in two dimensions,
living in time and place
experiencing life and death.

Now and here
or then and there.
What about now and there
and then and here?

Pancreatic cancer
means then is now,
there is here

Old age
implies then, not now,
remote from here
and unimaginable.

What if we live
as if today is our last?
Is now forever
and there everywhere?

The paradox of
now there and then here.
Impermanence means
take nothing for granted.

Heaven on earth
now and then,
here and there.